Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

United Nations Recognizes Yom Kippur as Holiday

The United Nations will for the first time recognize Yom Kippur as an official holiday.

Starting in 2016, no official meetings will take place on the Jewish day of atonement at the international body’s New York headquarters, and Jewish employees there will be able to miss work without using vacation hours, the Times of Israel reported Friday.

Other religious holidays that enjoy the same status are Christmas, Good Friday, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. This is the first time in its 70-year history that the U.N. has recognized a Jewish holiday.

In a statement issued Friday, B’nai B’rith International, which in a 2014 Op-Ed for The New York Times pushed for the international body to recognize Yom Kippur, said it “welcomes” the news.

In 2014, ambassadors from 32 countries signed a letter in support of recognizing Yom Kippur.

“This is a modest, common-sense step toward fairness for personnel at the United Nations and respect for Judaism as a major world religion,” the B’nai B’rith statement said. “It should be emulated at the U.N.’s offices across the world, and built upon across an international system in which politics often supplant mutual respect and equality.”

“We strongly commend the diplomats of the United States, Israel and many other nations who made possible the progress seen yesterday,” the statement added.

Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to United Nations, said the decision means there is finally “an official place for the Jewish religion in the world’s parliament.”

“Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people, and the U.N. should have recognized this holiday many years ago,” Danon said.

Like B’nai B’rith, he thanked U.S. diplomats, specifically US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, , for blocking attempts to kill the proposal.




Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.